Letter: Kudos to the Eagle River Watershed Council
On Sept. 24, the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District participated in the 2021 Water Festival organized by the Eagle River Watershed Council. Over 300 Eagle County fifth graders came to Colorado Mountain College in Edwards to learn about the Eagle River watershed and protection of our water resources, and to celebrate the rivers and streams that flow through our valley.
As the community relations specialist at the district, I know what we do every day is cause for celebration. But most kids don’t know what we do, which is why we jumped at the chance to participate in the 2019 inaugural Water Festival, as well as this year’s pandemic-delayed second annual event.
We are a water and wastewater service provider in the valley and most of the drinking water we provide between Vail and Edwards comes from the Gore Creek or the Eagle River. After this water is used indoors and flushed or washed down a drain, it comes back to one of our three wastewater treatment facilities to be cleaned before it is returned to these same waters. The infrastructure and treatment facilities we maintain do more to protect public health and the environment than many realize — this isn’t just stuff for fifth graders.
A 2007 poll conducted by The BJM (formerly the British Medical Journal) voted sanitation, which includes reliable water supply and wastewater systems, as the greatest medical advance since 1840 when the journal was first published. The importance of clean water beat out antibiotics, anesthesia, and even vaccines. Before the predecessor of ERWSD was created in the late-1960s, there were places in our own county where sewage still flowed directly into our streams. This didn’t just pose a threat to human health in our growing community, it threatened all the flora and fauna that depend on our rivers and the lifestyle we all love.
To ensure our next generation of water stewards values these services as much as we do, four district employees developed and presented two interactive sessions for Water Festival attendees, one on how water treatment works and the other focusing on our water supply and the importance of water efficiency. We joined forces with other water advocates leading activities on algae, bees, fly casting, climate change, and more.
Both students and presenters enjoyed themselves and it was great to be part of such a well-organized event that allowed us to reach so many students at once. A big thank you to the Eagle River Watershed Council and the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement for hosting this event and making it easy and fun to share how important water and wastewater services are to our community and environment. And an even bigger thank you to our teachers for teaching their students about water — we loved hearing how much they already knew about our water resources.